Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet – Thich Nhat Hanh
What are you grateful for today?
It’s a simple question, but in the midst of a hectic life and living in a society that places importance on speed, efficiency, and productivity, it’s easy to get caught up in the thick of things, forgetting to stop, appreciate, and reflect on the things we are grateful for.
Despite all the commotion we deal with in day-to-day life, gratitude can be found all around us, often in the simplest of circumstances. Whether it’s the smile on a partner’s face, an unexpected visit from an old friend, or the sound of the rain while you’re all comfy tucked up in bed, opportunities to practice gratitude are everywhere if you’re looking in the right direction.
Since my 25th birthday, for the last 834 days, I’ve been practicing gratitude by keeping a daily gratitude journal. I want to spend the rest of this article explaining why i believe practicing gratitude is important and showing you how you can do the same.
What is a gratitude journal?
A gratitude journal is a day-to-day log used to document the moments, situations and occurrences of gratitude in daily life. The idea is simple; just before bed, as you’re sat reflecting on your day, you take your pen and gratitude journal and record one thing you were grateful for that day. That’s it – nothing more, nothing less.
Why keep a gratitude journal?
Celebration – We live in a society that likes to focus on the things we don’t have. Practicing gratitude gives us an opportunity to celebrate the things we do have, bringing attention to the seemingly small but significant things that are happening all around us every single day.
Domino Effect – We become what we think about and what we choose to focus our attention on. By practicing gratitude, life lights up and we start seeing more around us. We shift our perspective and begin consciously looking for things to be grateful for, creating a domino effect which in turn begets more gratitude and an increased sense of positivity in our lives.
Memory – It’s often the subtle, small details that make experiences unique and meaningful.Over time we begin to forget the small details, and our interpretation of our experiences become increasingly abstract and vague. Therefore, instead of relying on our brain to recall the fine details, practicing gratitude through writing and keeping a gratitude journal is an excellent way to capture the moment.
Reflection – Since keeping a log of what we are grateful captures the moment, it can also be useful for self-introspection, and measuring our growth. Also, journaling about the things we are grateful for and capturing them on paper is a powerful form of manifestation, bridging the gap between reality and our mind. I’ve written more about this in a previous article called ‘How to Harness the Power of Journalling’ which you can read here.
Tips to get the most out of your Gratitude Journal
The smaller the journal the better – you only need a small journal to get you going. Smaller notepads are much more convenient to work with and you can pick up a decent hardback A5 Moleskin one like mine above for less than €10. Alternatively, if you don’t enjoy writing in a journal, you can always use your notes app in your phone to keep a running log too.
Keep your journal and a pen next to your bed for easy access – If you have a bedside cabinet, great, because every time you jump into bed you’ll see it and it will prompt you to open it up and write down one thing you were grateful for that day.
Build the habit – Some people suggest recording 3 things you’re grateful for each day to begin with, but I suggest you start with just 1 thing (i’m still only recording one thing i’m grateful for each day after 834 days) because it’s all about building a habit around your gratitude journal. Writing 1 simple sentence each day lowers the activation energy required and makes it difficult for the brain to resist and say no.
When you travel – I leave my gratitude journal at home and use my phone to keep a running log while I’m away. When I’m back I write out the things I was grateful for in my journal. Recalling what i was grateful for and writing it out in my journal also acts as good source of reinforcement and reflection.
Reflect monthly – every month, just before going to sleep, have a flick back through your journal to reflect and remind yourself what you were grateful for that month. I bet it will surprise you how beautiful little moments you have forgotten.
Example Structure: Day 1: I am grateful for the crisp crunch and sweet taste of my apple today. – Friday 5th January 2018.
Spread the love – A gratitude journal can be an excellent idea for a small gift or present for loved ones. When I go to stay with an old friend, I’ll buy a small A5 journal, decorate it and write a little personal message inside. It’s a small and meaningful present, and in turn, spreads more gratitude.
Looking for things to be grateful for: Here’s a few questions that I use to prompt my reflection at the end of the day: What did i learn today? Who impacted my day? Who did i help? What made me smile? What acts of gratitude did i see other people do?
Practicing gratitude allows us to celebrate and bring attention to the meaningful moments of life. In reflection on my own experiences, especially all the travel experiences of the last 5 years, it has been the seemingly small and simple moments that time after time have mattered the most.
I can’t wait to reflect and look back on my gratitude journals in 30 years time when i’m grey and old, but let’s focus on where we’re at right now.
Today, it’s Day 834, Friday 5th January 2018, and I’m grateful for being able to spread a little bit of gratitude by writing and sharing this article.
I want to finish by asking you the same question I started this article with:
What are you grateful for today?
Thanks for reading and all the best,
written by Daniel Beaumont, Friday 5th January 2018.
About the Author
Hello everyone, I’m Dan – a 28-year-old social entrepreneur and writer from the north of England, living in Bucharest, Romania. I’m currently writing my first book about my 4-year journey around the world seeking wisdom and life-lessons from everyday people I met hitchhiking and Couchsurfing.
I discovered that travel, if approached with the right mindset, can be life-changing, and a trip combining travel, purpose and introspection is a great way to learn, challenge oneself and change for the better. Now my mission in life is to share what I’ve learned to inspire others to embark on their own journey of self-discovery and use travel, entrepreneurship and technology as a means to make the world a better place.
I’m also the founder of Podstel – a vision to help humanity belong and grow by creating a worldwide network of ‘homes’ that bring locals and travellers together to share their stories, passions and skills. The first two Podstels are open and thriving in Bucharest, so if you’re passing through, be sure to come and say hi, or stay the night with us.
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